Crikey’s Canberra correspondent provided readers with an alternative
perspective on Ronald Reagan in yesterday’s subscriber only edition of

Subscriber edition – 7 June

The winners – and the survivors – write the history. So is anyone else
apart from Crikey’s man on the hill bothered that Nancy Reagan is now
historian emeritus of the 1980s?

Sure, the gushing tributes to the former President in today’s News Ltd
press were to be expected – Rupert Murdoch regards Reagan and his
soulmate Maggie Thatcher as his political heroes. But isn’t the media
going overboard in its hagiographic approach to Reagan’s legacy?

‘Tributes Flow for US hero’ crowed the Herald Sun. And, of course,
Piers Akerman was among the first to gush purple prose for the
gaffe-prone president: “He was indeed the The Great Communicator, a
greater man than any of his pygmy critics could ever imagine, and his
legacy lies wherever people still champion freedom and liberty.”

Check out the Akerman Telegraph tribute here – Reagan – the man who never ducked

The Oz’s coverage was particularly glowing. Aside from a measured piece
by Cameron Forbes, the only real negatives were saved for a small piece
on Iran Contra – buried at the bottom of the last page to find that.
Reagan’s supply side economic policies worked kind of by mistake.

It just happened to be a good time to run a big fiscal deficit, just as
the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policies led to deflation in the
States. And isn’t it pretty easy to stimulate the economy when you cut
taxes and cut welfare, tripling the national debt?

Surely Gorbachev had more to do with melting the Cold War than Reagan.
Did Ronny really wake up one day and think: “Let’s ramp up defence
spending and bring the Evil Empire down?”

It’s interesting that no-one has come out today and said: “the world is a safer place thanks to Ronald Reagan.”

But apart from the end of the Cold War, what else is his endearing
legacy? A Middle East policy driven by the neo-cons and the Israel
lobby, and a huge budget deficit fuelled by tax cuts to the rich. Let’s
see, which serving US president does that bring to mind?

Reagan reader feedback: the backlash begins

Our Ronald Reagan tributes yesterday drew a strong response, with
several subscribers alerting us to a scarifying piece on the Great
Communicator in the alternative meeja:

The Great Prevaricator
– The reaction from those of us who came of age during the Reagan
presidency – and found it inexplicably horrific, by Geov Parrish.


And Peter writes:

“Despite all the nonsensical crap written about the ‘greatness’ of
Reagan, there is still the unanswerable truth: the man’s dead.
What I want to know is, to call on the wit of Dorothy Parker, how the
bloody hell can they tell?”

While another subscriber draws our attention to Mikhail Gorbachev’s
comment in yesterday’s International Herald Tribune which backs
Reagan’s legacy as peacemaker:

Reagan, a hawk who made peace


And a leftie lauds our Man on the Hill:

“Excellent, Hugo, while the tame pussies of the large commercial media
and the whipped curs of the ABC run their stale, disingenuous,
uninformed ‘tributes’ to this boofhead, you come out with the truth.

He was of course much more likeable or – (more correctly) – sociable
than the vicious boofhead who now occupies the presidential suite, but
Ronnie was indeed a mean old Gramps, who cut welfare and reduced wages
in real terms. Good riddance to him and thanks to you for a little bit
of the truth.

A leftist subscriber.”


An academic writes:

“Dear Hugo,

Very pleased to hear you put an alternative slant to the Ronnie Reagan hagiography.

What a load of bollocks.

I remember reading only in the late nineties this idea that Ronnie was
responsible for winning the cold war by ramping up his defence spending
and sending the USSR bankrupt. Even with a decade of hindsight
that sounded like a crock of shite.

I am quite sure that if indeed Ronnie’s megalomaniac defence spending
did help to end the Cold War it was a pure bloody accident.
I never heard this theory proposed before, or during, or even
immediately after the event. It was only years later that his
biggest boosters put this theory together.

Ronnie was a bonehead, just like George.

My only question is ‘how did they know he was suffering alzheimers’? It couldn’t be from his behaviour, which was unchanged.

Anyway, he’s dead now, may he rest in peace, rather than under a pile of dung.

Balanced academic.”


A journo writes:

“Yes, appalled at the lack of balance in media over Reagan’s passing.

Yesterday’s SMH at least hinted at some of the downside. Death has, it seems, been a good career move for the former pres.

Pittsburgh Phil.”

CRIKEY: Keep your comments on the Reagan legacy coming to [email protected]

Peter Fray

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